A Letter to my Tall Daughter
My 5-year-old daughter Matilda May Schofield is tall. This may come as a seismic shock to you, what with me being a little over 6 foot and my husband 6ft4. But despite her being born a diddy 7lbs 8oz (for which my vulva is grudgingly grateful), it wasn’t long before she hiked up the percentiles in her little red book and was head and shoulders above the rest of the kids in our NCT group.
It transpires that parenting is a wonderful second chance at life. No, it doesn’t mean I’m going to live vicariously through my daughter, go all ‘momager’ and turn her into the Taylor Swift I should have been *sighs*. But it does mean I have the chance to say to her what I wish I could have said to my old self. To help her celebrate and nurture this actually-bloody-lovely gift that she’s been given.Anyhow. A few years ago I decided to write her the letter below. I shared it on All the Tall things, but since we seem to be going through a spate of "isn't she big" comments, I thought I'd republish it for Otto + Ivy. If you have any other advice you’d like to give her -- or any of the daughters we tall women may bear -- then I’d love you to let us know.
Besides, who the heck wants to be ‘normal’ anyway? I spent so many of my early years wanting the clothes that the cool kids had, the computer games the other kids played, to be the same height as the other girls at school. And why? Just to be like everybody else? Just to blend in? Is that what life is really about?
You’ll have moments when your height becomes a reason for people to put you down. Don’t let your insecurities make you defensive or respond spitefully as mine sometimes did. Everyone in the playground has something they feel insecure about. Their shortness, their tubbiness, their skinniness, their spottiness, their hair colour. Do your very damndest to rejoice in their wonderful qualities, even if you don’t share those qualities yourself. Don’t feel bitter and jealous about the cute petite girl. There will be people who wish they had some of your height too.
And if you’re being picked on, TELL SOMEONE. Tell me, tell a teacher. Because often the real curse of being tall comes in the fact that you always look strong and capable. It’s difficult to imagine a very un-little person being belittled.
One day (very far away) when you fall in love, make sure that it is with whoever the hell you want it to be with. And if that person is a man, then look for someone who makes you laugh before you seek out someone who is taller than you. Don’t write off 98% of the male population by only going after the latter. Hopefully by then we’ll live in a world where no one bats an eyelid at a woman who is taller than her boyfriend. If not, then you can be another exception that contributes to a change in attitude. Also note that Daddy will be able to destroy him whether he’s short or tall.
Don’t slouch. You’ll only look awkward and then spend ages correcting it in yoga classes. Walk like the world is your catwalk and be grateful that you have feet to move, even if they are difficult to find shoes for. It’s also your right to wear heels if you want. You can practice in Mummy’s.
I wasted so much of my first 16-or-so years praying that I’d wake up shorter. It didn’t happen. But I finally realised that even though my height wasn’t going anywhere, my attitude could. You will never stop being tall. You can put on or lose weight, colour your hair, make over your wardrobe, hell, you can even change your personality if you want to. But you will NEVER stop being tall. Take stock of what you do have and skip the ‘poor me’ stuff. It gets you nowhere. You may not be the cute, dainty little girl in the playground, but you could be the elegant, statuesque and strong one. Life is short, even if you're not.
And you’ll always be little to me anyway.
Love you endlessly,